Day 1: Journey to Dijon

Early in the morning we set off by car from Augsburg. After about four and a half hours we arrive at our destination for today - Dijon. Since we are travelling with a total of eight friends, we drive with two cars. The second car starts later and arrives in the evening.

Arriving at the hotel, we set off to explore Dijon. We stroll a little through the city centre, take a look at the Église Saint-Michel before having an apertif on the Place de la Libération. Then we make our way back to the hotel, where the second car is just arriving.

Together we make our way back into town to have dinner at Bistrot Burger on Place de la Libération.

Day 2: Continue to Le Somail & take over the houseboat

In the morning, we check out after breakfast and set off for Le Somail, where we take over the houseboat at the Nicols base. We have reserved the 13.50-metre Estivale Octo there. Once there, we get a good introduction to the boat from the German expat Heino.

While some of us bring our luggage onto the boat, the rest of us go to a nearby supermarket to buy provisions for the first evening. Around 5 pm we then start with our boat to look for an anchorage for the first night before dusk. After about two hours we find a nice secluded spot where we moor ourselves at the edge of the channel.

We make dinner and spend the rest of the evening with 1-2 glasses of wine on the terrace of our boat.

Day 3: Tunnel du Malpas & Fonseranes Lock Stairs

In the morning, before breakfast, we drive to the nearby town of Capestang to get breakfast there. During the drive there, even the last late risers get up. We have breakfast next to our boat in the harbour and then set off on our journey. Some of us take the opportunity to go for a run. We disembark in Capestang and walk along the canal ahead. After just under 6 km, we let ourselves be collected again at the edge of the canal. The route is available here on Komoot.

Around noon we reach the Tunnel du Malpas, a 165m long tunnel, which we cross with our boat. On the other side, we moor next to two other boats to walk up to the Oppidum d'Enserune hill. From here you have a great view of the Étang de Montady, a Mediterranean lagoon that was drained in the Middle Ages.

Back at the bottom, we set off on our journey. After about an hour, we reach the Fonseranes lock stairs. With its nine lock chambers, it overcomes a height difference of 21.5 metres. Together with two other boats we conquer the first six locks bit by bit. The last three locks are no longer in operation, instead we cross the Orb with a canal bridge, which ends in the harbour of Bezier.

We then sail a little further and moor under a tree at a nice spot on the edge of the canal. For dinner we cook lasagne in our kitchen.

Day 4: Agde round lock & arrival at Étang de Thau

In the morning we walk about 30 minutes to Portiragnes Plage to get breakfast. On the way we stop briefly at the beach and enjoy the fresh sea air. Back at the boat we have a hearty breakfast. Afterwards we split up, some of us go to the beach in Portiragnes Plage, I go running on the beach with the others. We first walk from the canal in the direction of Portiragnes Plage and then along the very small Etang back towards the canal. The route is available on Komoot here.

Back at the houseboat, we continue to the Agde round lock, a lock with a total of three exits. A few minutes after this lock, we stop in front of the Écluse et Épanchoir de Bagnas to stock up on new provisions in the nearby supermarket.

After passing through the lock, we continue to approach the Étang de Thau. As the distance to the first harbour on the Etang is too far for today, we look for a place to spend the night before we sail onto the Etang. Spending the night on the Etang is not an option, as we are not allowed to use the toilets and showers there (no sewage is allowed to be discharged into the Etang). Directly in front of the Etang, we then inevitably have to look for a place to sleep, as the sunset is getting closer and closer. The landscape here is super beautiful, but the shallow edge of the canal is peppered with large stones and old concrete remains. Of necessity, we look for a spot where there are no large stones in the water and pull the boat to shore in the water that is only a few centimetres deep. It is impressive how little draught such a houseboat has.

Before dinner we walk to the nearby Phare des Onglous lighthouse and enjoy the sunset. Afterwards we have a barbecue next to our boat.

Day 5: Marseillan & Mèze at the Étang de Thau

In the morning, some of us go running again. We walk along the shore to Marseillan and from there back to the boat. The route is available here on Komoot. We then take the boat to Marseillan to buy breakfast and fill up with fresh water.

Actually, we wanted to return to the canal in the evening, as strong winds are forecast for the next day and the Etang can only be navigated in light winds. In the harbour of Marseillan, however, we are told that water is only possible in combination with an overnight stay in the harbour, but that the short stretch back into the canal is also feasible in strong winds.

So after breakfast we decide to continue on to the fishing village of Mèze. The crossing from Marseillan to Mèze takes about 1 ½ hours and is a real experience. The trip on the open water is a nice change from the canals and also reveals beautiful views of the oyster farm in the Etang.

We stroll a little through Mèze, which is already quite deserted in October, before heading back to Marseillan. Once there, we have dinner at La Tavola and end the evening on the boat.

Day 6: Agde

In the morning, after breakfast, we make our way back into the channel. The swell is already noticeable during the crossing, but the most challenging thing is to hit the tiny-looking channel with the wind coming from the side.

Our first stop is in Agde, we explore the town a bit and stock up on new provisions. Afterwards we drive on to look for a place to spend the night. On the way there we had a very nice spot near Portiragnes Plage, but it was already occupied. This time we are lucky and the spot is free. We moor up and have a barbecue on the shore.

Day 7: Bezier

In the morning we continue towards Bezier. We reach the Écluse de Villeneuve exactly at lunchtime, while the lockkeeper is on his lunch break. As we are hungry and the restaurant next to the lock is closed, we order pizza from Uber Eats.

After the lunch break, we continue our journey to Béziers. Once there, we moor up in the harbour for a small fee and set off to explore the town. Bezier has the largest and liveliest city centre we have stopped in so far. We stock up on provisions and then make our way back to our houseboat in the harbour.

It's getting late and we still have the Fonseranes lock stairs to go. When we arrive there, we unfortunately find that the last ascent has already begun. Of necessity, we turn around and moor ourselves at the edge of the canal. We cook our evening meal and then sit down on the shore with our patio furniture.

After dinner, we explore the impressively illuminated lock stairs in the darkness.

Day 8: Return to base

In the morning we walk again to Bezier to get breakfast. After we have had a hearty breakfast, we start our trip with the Fonseranes locks.

At noon we moor again at the Tunnel du Malpas to have lunch. In the afternoon we again take the chance to go for a run along the canal. Unfortunately, our water pump fails when we take a shower. We call the base, but the staff there are quite busy at the moment. In an emergency, someone could come by, but if we came by ourselves in the evening, we would get a discount on our rental price. We decide on the second option and make our way towards the base. Once there, our water pump is exchanged.

Heino, who has already given us a briefing on the boat, gives us the tip to drive a few minutes out of the harbour, as there is a very nice place to spend the night. We make our way there to moor for the night.

There is also a small picnic area set up at the spot, perfect for eating dinner and winding down for the evening.

Day 9: Returning our boat & Carcasonne

In the morning we drive back quite early to the base of Nicolsas we have to return our boat cleaned by 9 am.

After stowing all our luggage in the cars and cleaning the boat, we set off for nearby Carcasonne. Once there, we explore the fortress from the Middle Ages. The fortress is really impressive in size and reveals beautiful views of the surrounding area.

After we have explored the fortress extensively, we continue to Geneva, where we spend another night in a hotel.

Day 10: Geneva & Journey Home

Before we start our journey home, we make our way to the centre of Geneva. We explore the city centre, which is unfortunately a bit deserted on Sunday, and walk a little along Lake Geneva before we start our journey home to Augsburg.